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Glossary of robotics

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Glossary of robotics

Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots.[1] Robotics is related to the sciences of electronics, engineering, mechanics, and software.[2]

The following is a list of common definitions related to the Robotics field.

A U.S. Marine Corps technician prepares to deploy a device that will detonate a buried improvised explosive device near Camp Fallujah, Iraq


  • Actuator, a motor that translates control signals into mechanical movement. The control signals are usually electrical but may, more rarely, be pneumatic or hydraulic. The power supply may likewise be any of these. It is common for electrical control to be used to modulate a high-power pneumatic or hydraulic motor.[3][4]
  • Aerobot a robot capable of independent flight on other planets.
  • Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it.
  • Automaton, an early self-operating robot, performing exactly the same actions, over and over.
  • Autonomous vehicle a vehicle equipped with an autopilot system, which is capable of driving from one point to another without input from a human operator.


  • Bionics: also known as biomimetics, biognosis, biomimicry, or bionical creativity engineering is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.


  • Cleanroom an environment that has a low level of environmental pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapors; often used in robot assembly.[3]
  • Combat, robot, a hobby or sport event where two or more robots fight in an arena to disable each other. This has developed from a hobby in the 1990s to several TV series worldwide.
  • Cruise missile a robot-controlled guided missile that carries an explosive payload.
  • Cyborg also known as a cybernetic organism, a being with both biological and artificial (e.g. electronic, mechanical or robotic) parts.


  • Delta robot - a tripod linkage, used to construct fast-acting manipulators with a wide range of movement.
  • Drive Power - The energy source or sources for the robot actuators.[4]


  • Emergent behaviour, a complicated resultant behaviour that emerges from the repeated operation of simple underlying behaviours.
  • End-effector An accessory device or tool specifically designed for attachment to the robot wrist or tool mounting plate to enable the robot to perform its intended task. (Examples may include gripper, spot-weld gun, arc-weld gun, spray- paint gun, or any other application tools.)[4]
  • Envelope (Space), Maximum The volume of space encompassing the maximum designed movements of all robot parts including the end-effector, workpiece, and attachments.[4]
  • Explosive ordnance disposal robot A mobile robot designed to assess whether an object contains explosives; some carry detonators that can be deposited at the object and activated after the robot withdraws.[3]


  • FIRST. or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 in order to develop ways to inspire students in engineering and technology fields.
  • Forward chaining a process in which events or received data are considered by an entity to intelligently adapt its behavior.[3]


  • Gynoid A humanoid robot designed to look like a human female.


  • Haptic tactile feedback technology using the operator's sense of touch. Also sometimes applied to robot manipulators with their own touch sensitivity.
  • Humanoid A robotic entity designed to resemble a human being in form, function, or both.
  • Hydraulics, the control of mechanical force and movement, generated by the application of liquid under pressure. c.f. pneumatics.


  • Industrial robot A reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.[4]
  • Insect robot A small robot designed to imitate insect behaviors rather than complex human behaviors.[3]


  • Kalman filter, a mathematical technique to estimate the value of a sensor measurement, from a series of intermittent and noisy values.
  • Kinematics, the study of motion, as applied to robots. This includes both the design of linkages to perform motion, their power, control and stability; also their planning, such as choosing a sequence of movements to achieve a broader task.



  • Mobile robot A self-propelled and self-contained robot that is capable of moving over a mechanically unconstrained course.[4]
  • Muting The deactivation of a presence-sensing safeguarding device during a portion of the robot cycle.[4]


  • Parallel manipulator an articulated robot or manipulator based on a number of kinematic chains, actuators and joints, in parallel. c.f. serial manipulator.
  • Pendant Any portable control device that permits an operator to control the robot from within the restricted envelope (space) of the robot.[4]
  • Pneumatics, the control of mechanical force and movement, generated by the application of compressed gas. c.f. hydraulics.
  • Prosthetic robots are programmable manipulators or devices for missing human limbs.[4]


  • Remote manipulator A manipulator under direct human control, often used for work with hazardous materials.
  • Robonaut a development project conducted by NASA to create humanoid robots capable of using space tools and working in similar environments to suited astronauts.


  • Servo, a motor that moves to and maintains a set position under command, rather than continuously moving.
  • Servomechanism An automatic device that uses error-sensing negative feedback to correct the performance of a mechanism.
  • Single Point of Control The ability to operate the robot such that initiation or robot motion from one source of control is possible only from that source and cannot be overridden from another source.[4]
  • Slow Speed Control A mode of robot motion control where the velocity of the robot is limited to allow persons sufficient time either to withdraw the hazardous motion or stop the robot.[4]
  • Snake robot A robot component resembling a tentacle or elephant's trunk, where many small actuators are used to allow continuous curved motion of a robot component, with many degrees of freedom. This is usually applied to snake-arm robots, which use this as a flexible manipulator. A rarer application is the snakebot, where the entire robot is mobile and snake-like, so as to gain access through narrow spaces.


  • Teach Mode The control state that allows the generation and storage of positional data points effected by moving the robot arm through a path of intended motions.[4]
  • Tool Center Point (TCP) The origin of the tool coordinate system.[4]


  • Uncanny valley A hypothesized zone in which humanoid robot behavior and appearance begin to approach that of actual humans, but are still missing vital elements, to the point that these mimicked actions or images cause revulsion.



  • Zero Moment Point. Zero Moment Point is a concept related with dynamics and control of legged locomotion, e.g., for humanoid robots. It specifies the point with respect to which dynamic reaction force at the contact of the foot with the ground does not produce any moment, i.e. the point where total inertia force equals 0 (zero).
  • ZMP. See Zero Moment Point.

See also


  1. ^ "robotics". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "Industry Spotlight: Robotics from Monster Career Advice". Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Joseph A. Angelo (2007). Robotics: a reference guide to the new technology. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 258–327.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "OSHA Technical Manual - SECTION IV: CHAPTER 4 - INDUSTRIAL ROBOTS AND ROBOT SYSTEM SAFETY". Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  5. ^ V. Daniel Hunt (1983), "Appendix A - Glossary", Industrial robotics handbook, Industrial Press Inc.,  
  6. ^ Helena Domaine (2006), "Glossary", Robotics, Lerner Publications,  

External links

Online Robotics glossary repositories:

  • Learn About Robots
  • Robot Glossary - Industrial Technology Defined
  • Robomatrix Robotics Glossary
  • JPL Robotics Glossary
  • GoRobotics Robotics Glossary

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration document "OSHA Technical Manual - SECTION IV: CHAPTER 4 - INDUSTRIAL ROBOTS AND ROBOT SYSTEM SAFETY" (retrieved on 2011-01-28).

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